Monday, April 18, 2016


Back to Dobbs, where the ratio of women, children, and dogs to Provincial soldiers is just right for an 18th-century frontier fort. Sandbyland. Lovely Carolina weather: 80 degrees during the day, 30 at night. The site director kindly allowed his drunkenness to be a valet for two days, a chance to up the common soldier game and stay busy. The Letenant's dual role made him hard to locate at times, but his possessions were always handy.

Friday was school day at the site. Showing 500 children how a musket works has it's moments. When asked about the practicality of the mid-18th century uniform, one young girl quipped "it was probably the swag of the day." Still time in the evening for work. Shoes need cleaning and black ball. Hot water from the laundress is helpful. The officer's coat is thoroughly brushed, tape restitched, and a pocket flap repaired. A vain fellow, our officer cannot grow long hair, so his wig needs redressing.

All this happens after hours, which begs the question if you interpret history and no one is there to see it, what's the point? The skills are still useful. The laundresses experimented with indigo in their rinse water to get just the right shade of blue for white linen. The public has a role to play, but are they required? It's a challenge to mesh the duties of the soldier with those of the servant: dressing both of us before formation, and preparing a noon day meal right after drill. Always keep the port glass full.

 Meanwhile, Red Shoes laundry boils dozens of shirts and stockings in the blazing sun. After drying, stockings are darned and repaired. Not everyone has this level of obsession. Others get bored easily. The officer's clean shirts have no marks: time to paint initials on them. The scrounged tablecloth needs mending. Here is hobby as work. Dressing the part and learning facts is only half the battle.

With enough fatigue it's possible to stuff a huge rag down a dry musket barrel while cleaning. Rookie mistake #5 means a stuck rammer and barrel removal with primitive tools. Thanks to Todd and his viselike grip the breech plug came out. Blacksmiths are 18th-century superheros. The servant role requires further exploration, but next time we'll start an early 19th century summer suit.      

1 comment:

  1. Great photos. Wish I had made it out there for that. Vain fellow indeed.